New Visa Scheme Set to Attract More Indian Tourists

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Najib Razak has announced an easier and cheaper new visa scheme to boost the tourism sector that will see Indian tourists getting visas without any fee for a 15-day visit.

The scheme would see Indian tourists paying only US$20 (RM88.50) as a processing fee for a 15-day visa to Malaysia while the visa is free, reported The Star. This comes as Malaysia eyes a slice of the lucrative Indian tourism market, which is projected by the United Nations’ World Tourism Organi­sation to reach 50 million outbound tourists by the year 2020. Total outbound spending is expected to cross the US$28 billion (RM123.9 billion) mark.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Hamzah Rahmat said with the new visa scheme, Malaysia could expect at least a million Indian tourists to come here, compared to 722,141 in 2015 and 638,578 in 2016. The Star quoted Hamzah as saying that with the new arrangement, Indian tourists could apply for a visa on their own without having to go through a third party.

“It’s not so much about the price but the ease of obtaining the visa. “Travellers want things easy for themselves, including not having to send their passports to the embassy for the application,” he said, citing the case of travellers from China where the numbers increased since Malaysia made it easier for them to obtain their visa.

Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Indus­try president Kenneth Eswaran, who is in New Delhi for Najib’s visit, was pleased with the new visa scheme to attract Indian tourists. “Indians are spending huge sums on medical tourism and overseas wedding packages,” he said, adding that the government had done the right thing.